NNPC opens new forex window for marketers, says no price hike – Today

NNPC

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) yesterday disclosed that a new window had been opened for petroleum product marketers to access forex to enable them import fuel.

The Corporation also denied any plan to further hike the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS), also known as petrol, stating that current realities do not support any price increase.

The group general manager, Group Public Affairs Division of the NNPC, Mr Muhammad Garba-Deen, disclosed this while addressing newsmen in Abuja yesterday.

Speaking on the plan to assist marketers have access to forex, he said, “A new window to make forex available for them for their importation needs has been opened and they are satisfied with it. We have fulfilled our own side of the bargain; we are waiting for them to deliver on their own promises.”

On the purported fuel hike attributed to the group’s general manager, Crude Oil Marketing Division, Mr Mele Kyari, who spoke at a conference in Lagos on Monday, Garba-Deen, clarified the statement, saying it did not refer to downstream operations.

He said: “I’ve read the report. The statement was made within the context of technical people. Regardless of what we are saying, the bottom-line is that there is absolutely no plan, whatsoever, by government to increase fuel price above the N145 maximum level. If there is going to be anything like that, the agency responsible for fixing the price of petrol, the PPPRA, would definitely sensitise Nigerians on it and give reasons for it.

“The reality is that there is absolutely no plan to increase fuel price. There is no shortage and there is no possibility of shortage in the nearest future.”

Garba-Deen explained further that the issue of forex was related to the international oil price increase, stressing that the Corporation already had a long term procurement contract and would not be affected by that in the nearest future.

According to him, all possible loopholes that would lead to shortage of supply had been adequately addressed.

“The possibility that there is going to be any shortage does not even exist, not now and not in the nearest future. People should relax; there is no need to panic.

“As of this moment, there is absolutely no plan to do that and no need for that, because we have more than enough supply. We have very robust stock of product in our custody. In addition to that, we also have long term procurement contract with our suppliers,” Garba-Deen stated.

On the state of local refineries, he said they were back and working.

According to him, the Port Harcourt and Kaduna refineries had been producing.

He however pointed out that challenges would always come because the refineries had been working for a long time, and noted that long term repairs were also in the making.

“You know about the plans to co-locate some new refineries within the existing ones and upgrade these ones. By the time these ones are done, which would probably be by 2018, then, the refineries would be producing at optimal capacity. Now it is an on and off thing; they are producing, but not to the capacity that is expected,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s oil production has risen to 1.9 million barrels per day (mbpd), the oil ministry said yesterday.

“We have built capacity of up to 2.4 million b/d, but (we are) currently producing about 1.9 million b/d,” Omar Farouk, the special adviser on international energy relations to Nigeria’s oil minister of state, said on the ministry’s twitter handle.

Farouk said Nigeria was in urgent need of new investments to increase its reserve base and output.

“Nigeria has produced over 10 billion barrels of oil since the year 2000. However, we have not discovered this much in the same period,” he told Platts.

Nigerian oil output plummeted to near 30-year lows of around 1.5 million-1.6 million b/d in August, according to government estimates, from 2.2 million b/d earlier in the year as attacks on oil facilities in the Niger Delta rose at an alarming pace amid resurgent militancy.

The sharp drop in oil production has severely hurt Nigeria’s economy, already exacerbated by the slump in global oil prices.

Militant group, Niger Delta Avengers, responsible for most of the attacks on oil facilities that cut Nigerian production by more than 700,000 b/d, said late in September that it was abandoning its ceasefire announced September 2, over what it said was the Nigerian government’s failure to respond to its peace overtures.

Some other militant groups, including the self-styled Greenland Justice Mandate, have been carrying out pockets of attacks on pipelines operated by state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

However, the federal government has begun moves for all-inclusive talks with Niger Delta leaders to end militancy in the region and bolster oil production

A presidential aide confirmed on Monday that a government team would commence talks with “all stakeholders in the Niger Delta region on October 31” including community leaders and youth organisations, to end the attacks on oil installations.

President Muhammadu Buhari had said on October 10 that the peace talks had not got off the ground because the government was trying to identify the actual leaders and groups to negotiate with.

NNPC and oil ministry officials have said they expect the country’s oil output to climb to around two million b/d by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, the Niger Delta Avengers, on Tuesday announced an attack on a pipeline installation owned by Chevron.

The attack was announced on the group’s website yesterday morning.

“Today at about 3:45am our strike team 06 took down Chevron Escravos export pipeline at Escravos offshore,” the group said in a statement by Mudoch Agbinibo, its spokesperson.

The Avengers also warned that no repairs should be carried out on the attacked installation until the dialogue with the Niger Delta people reaches a conclusion.

“This action is to further warn all IOCs’ that when we warn that there should be no repairs pending negotiation/dialogue with the people of the Niger Delta, it means there should be no repairs. Any attempt to use dialogue to distract us so as to allow the free flow of our oil will halt the dialogue process,” the group warned.